The original BurgerTime was released in 1982, and took its place as an arcade classic fondly remembered by many alongside the likes of other such icons of the day as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
The goal of the game was simple, yet something which could only ever make sense in video game logic: Chef Peter Pepper wants to make hamburgers, and does so my walking across the length of giant buns, patties, and other ingredients, causing them to fall down a layer until they are all neatly stacked up on the plates at the bottom. Unlike the cows you see at Chick-fil-a, however, there are other foods (a hot dog, a pickle, and a fried egg) who seem a bit jealous of Pepper’s burger-stacking, and wish to put a stop to it. Fortunately, the wily burger chef is able to stun them with a shot from his handy pepper shaker, allowing him to pass safely by until he can squash them between the giant burger parts.
It’s a weird concept, but sitting alongside a yellow dot-munching circle and knights riding ostriches over hot lava, BurgerTime was relatively mundane and endearing.
However, despite being ported to various platforms over the years, from the Atari 2600 and 7800 to the Intellivision, Colecovision, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and more, occasionally with some slight updates or enhancements, BurgerTime and its cast never really quite managed to move on to become a universal gaming star like those from Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Mario, Frogger, and more. The game did manage to be featured in a portion of the 1990 season 2 premiere of Captain N: The Game Master, but never really rose any higher than that.
Fast-forward a few more years to 1994, as Nintendo released Donkey Kong (affectionately known to some by its production title, Donkey Kong ’94) for the Game Boy. Perhaps this was to re-familiarize its audience with their then-dormant character Donkey Kong before releasing Donkey Kong Country to the world in the holiday season of that year; regardless, they had not only brought back the arcade classic, but remade it.
Taking advantage of the extra storage space of newer game cartridges (as well as the extra boost in capability provided by the Super Game Boy adapter for the Super NES), Donkey Kong not only managed to remake the game with improved graphics and sound (well, in a sense– it was a Game Boy game, after all), but evolve it. 100 levels awaited players with countless challenges across numerous landscapes and a variety of moves and abilities virtually unimaginable to those who had played the original in arcades over a decade before.
And now, we come to 2011 and the release of BurgerTime World Tour, developed by MonkeyPaw Games and published by Konami for WiiWare, the PlayStation Network, Windows PCs, and Xbox LIVE Arcade, which is the version played for this review.
BurgerTime World Tour feels as though the developers took a good, long look at how Nintendo remade their arcade classic, and tried to apply the same formula to BurgerTime… with the benefit of an extra 17 years of technological advancement, of course.
The premise, as noted above, is largely the same: you take the role of Chef Peter Pepper (who now has a new design, not that his was ever very consistent) as he sets out to create giant burgers. Or, in the Xbox LIVE Arcade version, you can instead choose to play as your Avatar instead; the downside to this, though, is that the cutscenes still depict Pepper, which leaves one to wonder what the point is. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad thing to have the option; no harm, no foul.
As for the cutscenes, BurgerTime World Tour does have something of a story, as Peter Pepper sets out to stop a rival chef who has apparently taken over a burger-making machine. Precisely why this is necessarily bad isn’t particularly clear, though we assume it’s to make a statement about the superiority of handmade burgers versus those prepared in assembly-line fashion.
The core gameplay of BurgerTime World Tour is very much like its namesake, with Peter Pepper climbing ladders and running along burger toppings to make them fall, blasting foes with pepper in the process. But that is largely where the similarities end.
Taking advantage of newer technology, World Tour is more of a 2.5D game, with levels based around blocks of different cities, from New York to Paris and from Mexico to Tokyo and more, with 50 levels in total (though only 30 for the upcoming Wii version). The platforms essentially wrap around these settings, making each stage like a very large cylinder; you not only move left and right (in addition to up and down), but also around the levels as well.
This actually makes things a little interesting when projectiles come into play, as they follow the curve of the stage as well, defying logic and physics; such is the nature of video games. But with that said, it provides a unique and interesting twist on the normal perspective presented in platforming games.
And indeed, this is a platforming game, unlike the original, as Peter Pepper has now learned the art of jumping. Furthermore, he can now also pick up an enemy stunned by a shot of peppper and carry them to the burger ingredients, where he slams them down to force the pieces to fall further than they normally would.
Other items provide further new abilities, including a spatula which handily rids you of enemies outright, and rocket packs which blast Pepper off to new heights; in some cases, you’ll need to blast your rocket up to another rocket and continue the climb. Unfortunately for Pepper, he can only carry one item at a time (not counting his trusty pepper shaker).
And he’ll need all the help he can get. Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Egg, and Mr. Pickle have all returned, and unlike the originals, whose behavior made them largely interchangeable, they each have new names and characteristics. Frank Furter will seek you out, wherever you go, and climb ladders to reach you, much like the original; Sonny the fried egg can climb, too, but tends to stick to certain areas, and will charge upon spotting you; Ruthless Dill the pickle sticks to certain areas as well, but now jumps when you do in order to prevent you from getting by.
Three new characters also appear to stop Peter Pepper from making his rounds, adding even more variety to the original formula.
Each city culminates in a boss battle, which plays similarly enough to the rest of the game, though there are some twists, such as repeatedly making the same jumbo burgers while dodging condiments to jam a burger-making machine, or dodging the blows of a massive luchador wrestler in the background.
If there is one word we would use to describe BurgerTime World Tour, it’s “unforgiving.”
Make no mistake about it: Despite the silly premise, this game, much like its forebearer, is tough. But even so, we would never go so far as to describe it as unfair; the controls work well, and you’re given plenty of tools with which to go about your burger-making business.
If there is any real problem that we could cite, it is that everything is so colorful and busy that sometimes you might not even see an enemy who is right in front of you… to be unable to see the trees for the forest, one might say. In addition, there’s a certain lack of “impact,” for lack of a better word, to the game’s physics; on the occasions where we would die, we weren’t even quite aware of it for a moment.
But even then, as you play, you develop a certain rhythm and become in-tune with the game, and that’s when it really becomes fun. In an age where “brown” seems to be the go-to color for so many games, we aren’t about to complain about something as vibrant and animated as this; it just takes a little getting used to.
To help with that, the developers have also included a handy Easy Mode. Interestingly enough, this does not seem to change the gameplay in the slightest; rather, you are given more lives with which to tackle each stage, as well as more shots from your pepper shaker to deal with your fried foes.
And it does make a huge difference if you’re having trouble. The only problem is, you cannot save your scores in this mode, and for some reason, the developers make it a point to tell you… at the start of every. Single. Stage.
Incidentally, one mechanic which thwarted us over and over again was when flat moving platforms would crush Peter Pepper to death. In most games, platforms like this are harmless enough, often even letting you pass through them, which just makes these all the more treacherous if you’re not paying attention. Frankly, we think that part seems a little like overkill, as the game is challenging enough without that bit.
Rounding out the game is the inclusion of multiplayer modes, which include simultaneous split-screen and online modes for up to four players. Here, you can unlock new characters, and even use your own as you race to complete the burgers first. In addition, you can even tweak which enemies and power-ups will or will not appear, how many of them there are, and how long the matches run.
Earlier in this review, we likened BurgerTime World Tour to Nintendo’s Donkey Kong revival, which leaves the question of whether or not the game succeeds in that regard.
And we definitely think so; while BurgerTime World Tour may not necessarily surpass Donkey Kong for the Game Boy (despite having an extra 17 years to do so), it has certainly done an admirable job bringing an arcade classic into the 21st century and updating it accordingly. If you love old-fashioned arcade-style gameplay, then this title is a must-play, especially if you were a fan of the original game.
Or, more simply put: this burger is well done.
Here’s The Rundown:
+ BurgerTime lives again!
+ The gameplay is very challenging, yet doesn’t tend to be unfair
+ It is to BurgerTime what Donkey Kong ’94 was to Donkey Kong, or Super Castlevania IV was to Castlevania; this is a sterling example of how to update a classic arcade game
+ Online and multiplayer modes extend the longevity
– While not quite floaty, some of the physics lack “oomph”
– Right, you can’t save scores on Easy mode, we get it… just like we got it the last 82 times you told us
– It’s sometimes hard to remember that moving platforms will squish you; was that part of the obstacle really necessary?
– No Avatars in cutscenes? But I wanted to watch myself get angry at a speeding cab driven by a weenie…
BurgerTime World Tour was developed by MonkeyPaw Games and published by Konami. It was released on Xbox LIVE Arcade on November 2nd and the PlayStation Network on November 15th, 2011, with PC and WiiWare versions forthcoming. A review copy of the Xbox LIVE Arcade version was provided by Konami, and was played until our reviewer was full, though he now has the craziest craving for some Johnny Rockets…